Explaining Bullies to My Autistic Child Is Hard

mom talking with sonMy first-born son, who is now 10, is also autistic. I don't generally lead with that explanation, because I figure people should meet the kid before they make any decisions about that. I've found the minute I say something about autism, people ask me about his "tricks." Like every kid with autism can count cards or something.

Newsflash, autism is a spectrum, not a disorder that makes every person diagnosed with it "Rain Man."

My son's a great kid, no doubt, but I can't help but notice how different our challenges are now that he's older. A tween with autism is far different than a two-year old with autism.

Especially when it comes to bullying.


I can't make a broad generalization here (although I'd like to) about special needs and bullying, but I can tell you that my autistic son gets bullied. A lot.

It used to be okay, the bullying, or as okay as bullying can be, because my son doesn't have the same range of emotions that my other kids have. We'd deal with the bully, we'd make sure the situation was handled with the school and the other child's parents, and we'd explain to my son whatever needed explaining.

It wasn't usually very much.

He's older now, going to be eleven (cannot believe I just typed that) on his next birthday, and his emotions are much different than his two-year old emotions. We've worked hard with him to help him understand emotions in the hopes that he will one day be able to understand and read people as easily as his younger siblings do.

Because we've done that, it's been harder for him to accept that other kids bully. Especially since they're bullying him. It completely upsets his sense of right and wrong in the world and I don't know how, exactly, to explain to him that sometimes people, well, they're just jerks. And that he doesn't deserve it.

I try, I do, but I feel like I'm failing at it.

There are days I wish I could scoop up those two-year old problems and deal with those again. Because it's so heartbreaking as a parent of a special needs child, knowing he faces difficulties we've only just begun to scratch the surface of, to see his sweet little heart hurt.

I do my best to sit with him and try to explain that sometimes, people, they're just kind of jerks and offer him some solutions as to how to handle these types of people and situations. The logical part of his beautiful brain understands this, but the emotional side (which is much, much less mature), well, it simply cannot comprehend bullies and bullying.

While I'm thinking about it, neither do I.


Image via Monkey Business Images/shutterstock

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